Last time we talked about the apostle John being in the isle of Patmos for “the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.” I think John is speaking of the testimony that back on the mainland got him in trouble. Jesus had said to His disciples:
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me, and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with Me from the beginning… (Jn. 15.26,27).
It was the Spirit of Christ in John that enabled him to have the testimony of Jesus Christ. John by the Holy Spirit was convicting those around him of sin—the same thing Jesus had done when He was here (Jn. 16.9). Again it wasn’t appreciated. It got John banished to Patmos.
But I think this “testimony of Jesus Christ” refers also to what Jesus had in mind to speak to John on Patmos. He had much yet to say to John, and through John to us all—this prophecy we know as The Revelation of Jesus Christ. This prophecy is what “God gave unto Him (unto Jesus Christ), to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass” (Rev. 1.1). And so Jesus the Word of God, the faithful and true witness, is testifying of what God has now given Him. It is a prophecy.
And He sent and signified it by His angel—His messenger—unto His servant John.
I believe this was the same angel that later in the prophecy John was tempted to worship, thinking this one was Jesus Christ Himself. But the angel would not permit John to worship him. He was not Jesus Christ, but had “the testimony of Jesus.”
See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy (Rev. 19.10).
The Greek original has the article there. “The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of the prophecy.” The same words are used in Rev. 1.3, which the KJV translates this prophecy.
Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy…
It should say, “the words of the prophecy.”
We will speak more of this in a minute.
The word angel simply means “messenger,” and it takes discernment to discover whether it’s referring to one of the heavenly angelic order, or simply a man, a messenger sent by God. Sometimes the distinction isn’t clear. But in this case we’re told clearly, for the angel himself tells us clearly: he is a man: “thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren…” So we gather he was one of the saints beyond the veil. (Very quickly here, this gives us a little glimpse that moving beyond the veil of this life does not mean idly sitting on a cloud playing a harp all day.)
John is tempted a second time in this same manner at the close of the book.
And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book. Worship God” (Rev. 22.8,9).
So here was a man—a prophet—that John was ready to bow down to and worship. And it happened twice. John obviously was having trouble with this. Here before him was a man so like Jesus Christ that John actually thought it was Jesus Himself. And so he fell at his feet to worship him.
But the man forbade him. His testimony was, “I’m a man just like you, John. What you are seeing in my life is actually the Testimony of Jesus Christ. What you’re hearing me speak—I’m only speaking what Jesus Christ is speaking. What I am showing you–it’s what Jesus Christ is showing me. It’s Jesus Christ you’re seeing. It’s Jesus Christ who is prophesying. It’s the testimony of Jesus that is the Spirit of the prophecy.”
The man called himself a prophet. The prophecy he was involved in—the prophecy we know as our book of The Revelation—was nothing less than the shining forth of “That Prophet,” the Son of God Himself. God spake in times past to the fathers through the prophets in various ways—a word here, a word there, a portion here, a portion there (Heb. 1.1). But in these last days He hath spoken to us in a Son, who is the full, complete message of Himself, the outshining of Himself, the “express image of His Person.” That is the Testimony of Jesus Christ. He spoke only what the Father was speaking. He did only what the Father was doing. He revealed the Father. He was so one with the Father that those who saw Him… it was the Father they were seeing. Yet Jesus was not the Father. He was the Son of the Father. He was “the faithful and true Witness,” who by the Holy Spirit bore witness to and shone forth the Father in all He said and did. That was His testimony. “The Son can do nothing of Himself but what He seeth the Father do…” That is the Testimony of Jesus Christ.
And that’s what this man had. “I am of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus…” We’re inclined to think that it’s blasphemy that an ordinary man should have this kind of testimony—that those seeing him would mistake him for Jesus Christ Himself. But here is at least one man from the past who had this very testimony. No doubt there are many others.
I ask the question, then. Have you or I ever been mistaken for Jesus Christ? You and I—are we so committed to speaking only what He speaks, and doing only what He does, that we too have the testimony of Jesus Christ? Have we become so like Him in love, in holiness, in righteousness, in mercy, in patience, in humility… in all His graces… in the power and manifestation of His Spirit and Presence in our lives… there is such Light about us… there is such a shining forth of Jesus Christ Himself in our lives… that people around us are tempted to fall down at our feet and worship us?
Would that we too might have the same opportunity, like that man beyond the veil, to forbid it, and call others to worship God alone!